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Thread: Pre-numbered Wilkinson - patent hilt

  1. #26
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    Thanks Ian, just remembered my Richard Dellar and he confirms between 1851 and 1875 officers of the 6th DG carried the 3 bar light cavalry hilt. However 1851 is likely too early for Wilkinson made patent hilt is it not?

    P. S. I should have thought to check Dellar earlier. There is a similar pre numbered PT Wilkinson on page 155 although date origin unclear.

    Also of interest on page 156 is an 1821 pattern of the 9th lancers which has a straight blade etched to 9th Lancers (as per Robert Blair) this was owned by an officer who joined the 9th in 1842. Was there any particular preference in the 9th Lancers toward a straight blade?

    P. P. S a straight 'lance-like' blade one might say!
    Last edited by james.elstob; 07-08-2019 at 02:21 PM.

  2. #27
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    Reeves registered the "solid hilt" previous to the patent of 1853 I believe and shown on early Reeves solid hilts with "registered" etched on the blade.. Did Wilkinson's have permission from Reeves to make "solid hilts" previous to patent date, this sword seems to say so?

  3. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    Reeves registered the "solid hilt" previous to the patent of 1853 I believe and shown on early Reeves solid hilts with "registered" etched on the blade.. Did Wilkinson's have permission from Reeves to make "solid hilts" previous to patent date, this sword seems to say so?
    Unless this sword was bought by Robert Blair prior to his commissioning in December 1853 which could place it after the patent.

  4. #29
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    Here are a couple of questions I've been mulling over on the dating of early wilkinson PT hilts.

    What was the difference between 'registeted' on the spine of Matt's early Reeves PT and 'patented' used later?

    Would this registered status have stopped Wilkinson from freely copying the PT?

    Would Reeves have wanted/needed to have the patent secured before agreeing to anyone else manufacturing the PT?

    Any Victorian law specialists out there?

    As there was a good relationship between Reeves and Wilkinson why wouldn't they both want to profit from this new gimmick as soon as possible?

    However if Wilkinson were producing PT from prior to 1853 why don't we know of any confirmed examples and weren't Reeves and Wilkinson not direct competitors at that time. Would Reeves not want to benefit at least initially from his sole hold over this new patent?

    The answers lost in the mists of time I suspect.

  5. #30
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    There are Reeves examples of swords pre 1853 etched "registered" for the solid hilt. Why this Wilkinson sword has no etching to advertise the registered or patent hilt is odd which makes me think this sword is before the patent but I have no proof of this.

  6. #31
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    Did I dream this, or have I read somewhere an analysis of how many Wilkinsons from the existing proof books were patent tangs? It would be interesting to know how many of the 495 produced in 1854 were patent tangs.

  7. #32
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    1855 Wilkinson's also made quite a few swords with special order blades and hilts. New officers learned of the thick Russian winter coats and wanted something that would penetrate.
    I believe the Royal Armouries has the Wilkinson proof books and I've read you can look at them but copying them is sold by the page.
    Maybe some energetic volunteer could look through them making notes? I have the time but don't live in the country.

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    Also of interest on page 156 is an 1821 pattern of the 9th lancers which has a straight blade etched to 9th Lancers (as per Robert Blair) this was owned by an officer who joined the 9th in 1842. Was there any particular preference in the 9th Lancers toward a straight blade?

    P. P. S a straight 'lance-like' blade one might say!
    I have noticed this as well and indeed some years ago I did have a straight bladed cavalry sword to a lancers officer.. Unfortunately I cannot remember the officer's name to look him up!

  9. #34
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  10. #35
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    There is some interesting info in this thread and the question of how to date an early patent hilt is fascinating to me.

    First up, here is the article referred to which I put together after obtaining an early pre-'patent' Reeves: http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/antiqu...-sale/1821-92/

    I agree with Will, that it is interesting that this Wilkinson's etching makes no mention of the patent. That would suggest without much question that the sword dates to before October 1853 (when the patent was granted). Reeves themselves (as on my example) used 'registered' before the patent was confirmed.

    My Reeves patent hilt dates to before 1851, due to the business address etched on the blade. Wilkinson were making swords from 1844 onwards. So, technically this sword could date between 1844 and October 1853.

    However, my sword is from Reeves themselves and has an earlier prototype kind of construction. So I think the assumption has to be that this RB Wilkinson *probably* dates between about 1850 and October 1853. As mentioned, it could have been purchased by a young officer newly commissioned, or an experienced officer who simply wanted a new sword (in my experience, a lot of non-regulation swords were actually later purchases by more experienced officers).

    In the search for 'RB', I think we must be looking only at officers who were already in the service between 1850 (or perhaps as early as 1845) and October 1853.

  11. #36
    Hi James,

    I'd seen the sword pre-auction, and find your post and various responses all very interesting.

    Whilst I've not done much in terms of looking for RB, I though I might mention my Patent Solid Hilt "Bengal Cavalry" example Proof No. 7287, which dates to April 1856 and was purchased by a chap who joined the 6th Bengal Light Cavalry (a native regiment) before they mutinied.

    Virtually the same as your sword, the hilt has leather grip plates, domed chequered pommel and chequered thumb-rest. Apart from the specific blade marking Patent Solid Hilt, the blade at forte looks almost the same, but my scabbard has a normal shoe.

    Having said that, I do have another Wilkinson with a broadsword blade (double edged), no proof number and it has a scabbard shoe likes yours.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by gordon byrne View Post
    Having said that, I do have another Wilkinson with a broadsword blade (double edged), no proof number and it has a scabbard shoe likes yours.
    Thanks Gordon, there must be a term used for this shoe if for no more reason than Wilkinson jargon to explain what was ordered.

  13. #38
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    Another thread describing a straight bladed 1821 officers sword etched to the 9th lancers. (belonging to TJ Francis)

    Edited link:

    http://www.swordforum.com/vb4/showth...-Officer-Sword
    Last edited by james.elstob; 07-10-2019 at 01:54 AM.

  14. #39
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    The link does not work for me unfortunately. I do have a Wilkinson with patent hilt and straight blade etched to the Yokohama Mounted Volunteershttp://www.swordforum.com/vb4/showthread.php?90825-Is-this-Latham-Wilkinson-a-bit-naughty-!

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by IMoran View Post
    Bickerstaff was also pictured in the book (portrait only and sword not too visible but possibly three bar).

    I suspect that the only definitive answer is to find a picture of one of the named guys and hope it shows the drag! Bickerstaff was witj the 6th though the Crimea and Mutiny so there is an off chance one of the photographers from the period got him, or a colleague.

    Finally, I am not sure if this is anything that adds light but there is a wonderful pen portrait of Bickerstaff available on google books from an unnamed cornet during the mutiny, he is described as being vain and egotistical beyond belief! It might be the kind of man to buy a flash and unusual sword!
    Ian,

    I have identied a portrait of Bickerstaff printed in "Those Terrible Grey Horses: An Illustrated History of the Royal Scots ..." By Stephen Wood.

    It does seem to show a 3 bar hilt although it looks to me to be curved rather than straight. The grip of the sword is also shown edge on but due to the poor resolution of the image in Google books its hard to say whether there is enough detail to identify a patent tang. Does anyone have a high resolution copy of this portrait?

    Lieutenant-Colonel robert Bickerstaff, 6th dragoon guards, oil on canvas, Artist unknown.

    Unfortunately I can't locate the pen drawing of Bickerstaff you refer to or the description of him. It sounds rather amusing.

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    Ian,

    I have identied a portrait of Bickerstaff printed in "Those Terrible Grey Horses: An Illustrated History of the Royal Scots ..." By Stephen Wood.

    It does seem to show a 3 bar hilt although it looks to me to be curved rather than straight. The grip of the sword is also shown edge on but due to the poor resolution of the image in Google books its hard to say whether there is enough detail to identify a patent tang. Does anyone have a high resolution copy of this portrait?

    Lieutenant-Colonel robert Bickerstaff, 6th dragoon guards, oil on canvas, Artist unknown.

    Unfortunately I can't locate the pen drawing of Bickerstaff you refer to or the description of him. It sounds rather amusing.
    Hi James,
    I have no idea on the image, but I think there are other versions of it on google.
    The link below might work:
    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...#8220;&f=false
    If it doesn’t work I searched google books for “Major Bickerstaff “ and found the extract above in ‘The History of the British Cavalry 1816-1919’
    It did make me laugh!
    Kind Regards
    Ian

  17. #42
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    Wow, he doesn't pull any punches! It's strange to read something so candid and a reminder that all these people we research are just a bunch of random humans with the usual flaws and faults.

  18. #43
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    I am now informed that an 1821 pattern, 3 bar (non Wilkinson) patent hilt attributed to Robert Baring is known to exist which, on the balance of probabilities rules him out of the running with my Wilkinson example.

    And then there were 4....

    Richard Boulton (appt. 1835) 7th Bengal light Cav. retired March 1857

    Ronald Bayne (appt. 1845) Surgeon 1st sind irregular horse.

    Robert Bickerstaff (1844) 6th DG.

    Robert Blair (1853) 9th lancers.

  19. #44
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    I really don't want to throw a 'spanner' into the works, but must we not consider that this could also be a Royal Artillery sword?

    And before anyone shouts me down with regards the Royal Artillery Regimental etching which should be on the blade, I have a Wilkinson Patent Hilt made for the Royal Artillery (as documented on the Proof Page) dated to July 1855 which doesn’t have the Royal Artillery Regimental motif.

  20. #45
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    http://www.swordforum.com/vb4/showth...n+blade+makers
    post #9 explains the patent and dates, also Wilkinson and Reeves connection.

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    http://www.swordforum.com/vb4/showth...n+blade+makers
    post #9 explains the patent and dates, also Wilkinson and Reeves connection.
    I was just trawling through that thread myself last night Will!

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Wilkinson-Latham View Post
    You are correct that Reeves patented the Patent Tang in 1853 on which the 1853 Pattern Cavalry Trooper's sword was based.
    Now on to Wilkinson and Reeves.
    John Latham, Henry Wilkinson’s Manager at Wilkinson & Son visited Birmingham and toured Charles Reeves’s factory on Wednesday 11th October 1854, he noted in his diary:
    Started for Birmingham by GW Rail-reached about 3. Went direct to the Stork and dined and then went to Reeves’s who received us very heartily. Went over his factory and saw many things amongst the rest his Grindery which was the most diabolical plan I ever saw.
    There was a connection between Wilkinsons and Reeves at this time, in fact Henry Wilkinsons Proving machine and blade forging was at Issac Hebberd's premises in Air Street with the other work and sword mounting,etching and finishing at 27 Pall Mall. In 1853 Charles Reeves bought Hebberd and from the Proof Stubs, Wilkinsons blades continued to be proved there during 1854 at least.
    I wonder if Reeves' purchase of Hebberd's where Wilkinsons blades were forged in 1853 might have heralded the start of Wilkinson making solid tang blades. The relative scarcity of Wilkinsons without the 'Patent Solid Tang' wording might be accounted for by that portion being made after the 1853 purchase of hebberd's but before the granting of the patent in October 1853.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 07-12-2019 at 12:31 PM. Reason: Clarity

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by JordanPL View Post
    I really don't want to throw a 'spanner' into the works, but must we not consider that this could also be a Royal Artillery sword?

    And before anyone shouts me down with regards the Royal Artillery Regimental etching which should be on the blade, I have a Wilkinson Patent Hilt made for the Royal Artillery (as documented on the Proof Page) dated to July 1855 which doesn’t have the Royal Artillery Regimental motif.
    I think it must be considered given your evidence and a trawl through the forum finds other references to early R.A. examples not having the full etching we would expect on later examples.

    Would an R.A. officer chose a straight blade though? Don't royal artillery swords still use a curved 1845 blade today?

    Also Jordan did your guy remain in the artillery? Perhaps he had half an eye on moving to another branch?

    My knowledge of R.A. is limited so I welcome more info on this possibility.

  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    I wonder if Reeves' purchase of Hebberd's where Wilkinsons blades were forged in 1853 might have heralded the start of Wilkinson making solid tang blades. The relative scarcity of Wilkinsons without the 'Patent Solid Tang' wording might be accounted for by that portion being made after the 1853 purchase of hebberd's but before the granting of the patent in October 1853.
    Which year by the way would also coincide with a change from Wilkinson, James & Son to Wilkinson & Son. The first change in name for 35 years.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 07-12-2019 at 01:01 PM.

  24. #49
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    Straight or curved doesn't help pin this to any particular branch of service, any officer could order whatever blade they liked. I have special order blades for cavalry, infantry, artillery, engineers, navy etc.
    So this absolutely could be for an artillery officer, though the odds are less likely, having no RA or RHA markings. Not impossible though. FYI, I have a pre-numbered Wilkinson non-regulation Royal Horse Artillery sword with full RHA markings.

  25. #50
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    Regarding dating of the first Wilkinson patent tang, are there not Wilkinson catalogues extant from pre 1854?

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